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Toxic

I learned a good word the other day: toxic.

I’ve always struggled to fit in… like always. As a kid, I don?t think I noticed much, but I did learn later that due to my attitude and behaviour, I had very few friends.

Around 12 years old, just before I turned into a teen, I started to notice my lack.

By then, all the cliques had already formed and it was too late for me to join one. No one wanted me, and I had no one to blame but myself. Perhaps I was the one who was toxic.

In high school, I had a boyfriend. He was toxic. Together, we were pretty toxic.

We were a horrible couple, but he was my first (ahem, second) real boyfriend and we lasted almost seven years together. I had him so I didn?t need friends, thus, I didn?t have friends? although I didn?t really notice the lack.

Not until those seven years ended anyway.

Toxic is a Keeper

Throughout my years in university, I made two true friends. One was my roommate.

We don?t talk anymore, but I have nothing but kind things to say about her. She was a lovely person inside and out, and I imagine she?s the same today.

The other, I met in one of my many part time jobs. She is, to this day, my very best friend.

I survived through some more very toxic years during and after university as I tried to find my place in the world and make up for the lack I suffered for the 18+ previous years. My best friend remained by my side, the one true non-toxic friend I had.

What I learned as I talked with another true friend very recently: toxic people will always be in our lives.

I’m in my thirties now and still coming across these people as I try to fit in and find my place.

Yes, you heard that correctly.

To all my young readers out there, when they tell you it gets easier, it does. But life doesn?t change as much as you think it will between high school and ?real life adulthood.?

My son has a class of friends. He?s in senior kindergarten and loves everyone equally.

I’d like to be that mother who organizes playdates for him outside of school, but I need to be there? and the other mothers need to be there too. That?s our prerogative as mothers of young children.

Well, to organize a playdate for boys means that I need to be friendly with the parents of other boys. I try. I’m awkward at times, but I still try.

Some of the mothers are pleasant in return, but still, the playdates don?t happen.

Some of the mothers don?t even try to be pleasant. Perhaps I’ve been prejudged and disliked immediately for no real reason.

It makes me wonder how much have I really changed since being an adolescent with no friends? Back then it was my fault. Is it still?

Who’s the Real Toxic One?

When your child is not invited to a birthday party of one of his closest friends at school, it has to be your fault. Doesn?t it? That mother does not want to see me, so she doesn?t invite my child.

That?s unfair to both boys but it is what it is.

It?s a very difficult thing for me to get past. I want the best for my child, and I want him to be able to have a fun life filled with friends. It seems that I might be the one holding him back.

My very good friend explained that this other mother is toxic.

My friend watched as this other mother walked by, rolled her eyes, and continued on like I was something less than human. It was my friend that explained that I am better off.

Because people like her tend to influence people around them, and if I fit in that crowd, I, too, would become toxic.

I’m still trying to digest this. All I see is a woman who doesn?t like me and so my child suffers. This woman might be toxic to me, but by default that makes me toxic to my son.

How can I fix this? How can I get past this?

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17 Comments

  1. Jennifer Bogart Jennifer Bogart

    Be yourself… and be true to your values. Kids need their parents more than they need their peers. And if the parents of your child’s peers are toxic, then you don’t need them anymore than you need to drink a gallon of cyanide.

    Be pleasant, be welcoming, be the kind soul you are, and your son and his friends will figure it out as they grow into the adults they’re meant to be. Most of all, be honest – to yourself, your son, and the parents you have to deal with.

    Most of them are genuinely nice people, sometimes they get off track and need a little guidance, and sometimes, they’re not worth the time and effort and stress required to make things work.

    You’re a good friend, a terrific mom, and the only person missing out in this scenario is the one who won’t open up enough to let you in.

    • i hope the kids always remember who they need more than who 😉
      thank you for your support Jenn, i heart you big style

  2. Shelly Hrecin Shelly Hrecin

    My daughter is 3 so we haven’t experienced much of this yet. I noticed last year that we weren’t invited to many birthday parties for friends from school. Once my daughters birthday rolled around, I invited everyone. I know how it feels to be left out and whether I like them or not, my daughter wanted “all” of her friends there. Sometimes what I want doesn’t matter, and its important to remember that. About 7 kids from daycare showed, way more than I expected. And we were invited to quite a few more birthday parties this year.

    If they are close friends then I would ask the parent outright about why you didn’t receive an invitation to the party. I would mention that my child heard about the birthday party and we would love to come if it is okay. It doesn’t have to be “it is what it is”. You can change that. Ask for a playdate. Take the initiative to set something up with 1 or 2 friends at a time that works best for everyone. After being around the parent, if they are still stiff and haven’t changed then move on. It is important to try, and okay to not succeed.

    As a parent, I have learned to step wayyyyy outside of my comfort zone to do things for my child. I am pretty quiet and the friends that I have….I have known all my life. I have had to make new friends to show my daughter how life works. I have had to friend request strangers on fb just because my child says that their daughter is her best friend ever! I am not worried about how many friends she makes, sometimes all you need is one.

    • Thanks for your insight Shelly – I’m not entirely sure if this is worth the hassle of confrontation – we may not even be able to attend the birthday party. but i really dislike that my son wasn’t invited. it’s for sure personal as the two boys play together every day

    • “Ask for a playdate. Take the initiative to set something up with 1 or 2 friends at a time that works best for everyone. After being around the parent, if they are still stiff and haven?t changed then move on. It is important to try, and okay to not succeed.”

      Great advice, Jenn, thank you. The little boy lives about 10 minutes walk from our house, so not far at all. Our son needs more playdates anyhoo, as winter starts to kick in, so may as well start somewhere. 🙂

      Thank you.

  3. Danny Brown Danny Brown

    It’s a tough question. I know the good person you are, inside and outside, and I know how we’re raising our children. I know the loving child Ewan is, and how he interacts with others.

    I recall how how and his friend played together at the soccer school we signed him up for earlier this year, and the fun they had. So it’s sad to see him not get his party invite.

    At the same time, though, without speaking directly with the friend’s mom, we’ll never know if the kid asked Ewan to be invited and she said no, or if she just invited who she wanted there and didn’t let her son choose. Or, perhaps due to space wherever the party is being thrown, Ewan was one of the kids that didn’t make the cut.

    It does sound like the mother has issues (and I recall the example the dad made a few times at the soccer class – beer can in hand before lunch, smoking a pipe while kneeling in front of his younger kid in a stroller) – so, as others have said, perhaps it’s a good thing in the long run that paths may be going a different way.

    We can only “influence” our own kids, and try and set good examples.
    Sometimes we’ll fail, but as long as no-one gets hurt or breaks a bone, I see that as a win through the learning process. 😉

    You’re good people. Don’t judge yourself based on the thoughts of irrelevant others.

    x

    • This is true too… at least they can still play at school, unaffected by either set of parents 🙂

  4. Dear, sweet Jac,

    As a parent, and a former teacher of little ones, my heart goes out to you. I had something similar happen when my daughter was four. My girl and her little friend were close (lived across the street from each other, went to swimming lessons together, played Barbies, etc.) All of a sudden, one day, the mom of this little girl wanted nothing to do with me?with us.

    Looking back, it was when my husband and I separated and I became a single parent. I don’t know, she seem to feel threatened by me, God only knows why. My daughter couldn’t understand why she couldn’t play with Jennie anymore. It nearly broke my heart. So there’s that (explaining something like that to your child).

    Also, if I might offer my perspective as a teacher of six-year-olds, this whole birthday thing was painful in itself.

    Parents would ask if I would pass out the invitations (always to certain select kids) at school. I gently refused the request, explaining that 6-year-olds have fragile, tender hearts and I couldn’t tolerate excluding some of them in that way. I offered to quietly tuck the invitations into the backpacks of the “chosen ones” as they were lining up to go home for the day.

    I don’t know how your little one found out that he wasn’t invited, but I wasn’t going to play a part in hurt feelings and tears.

    Much love to you.

    • that’s awful! teaching our kids to hate for whatever reason is no different than teaching racism. My kids are so full of love, that they don’t see differences. And I’m hoping to keep it this way for as long as possible 🙂

      sending love back to you, Judy!

  5. When my kids were little I held my tongue on a few occasions because I didn’t want to be the reason why they weren’t invited somewhere.

    Time passed and I stopped holding my tongue and the invitations to some things didn’t come.

    I was asked about it by one of the children and I told them I expected it was my fault. They asked why and I said I don’t suffer fools very well.

    They laughed and told me the parent in question wasn’t very nice and went about their business.

    That being said, when the kids were little we always invited all of the kids, even the ones whose parents were awful because it was the right thing to do.

    Some people are petty and ridiculous and too selfish to look out for their own children. So sorry you have to deal with it, the other mom sounds pretty nasty.

    • I’m glad that there were no hard feelings all around, and everyone saw the humour… you know, apart from the fool… I’m hoping this sorta thing doesn’t happen often, and if it does, I’d like to think my son will laugh it off as well 🙂

  6. Lindsay Bell Lindsay Bell

    Aw jeeze. Ugh. Wow. THIS broke my heart. From a mom’s perspective, and from a “person’s” perspective.

    As Danny mentions above, there really could be SO MANY variables to a case like this. But, I also know “that feeling” – only too well – and I know that for many of us moms, the gut rules. I also know that the “adult us” understands that you wouldn’t want Ewan exposed to a mean-spirited person such as Boy-X’s mom anyhow, right??

    But yeah. Try explaining that to a wee lad with hurt feelings.

    All I can say is that, as painful as it must be for you to watch Ewan be hurt (and oh my god I know how painful that is, Jacki), the only saving grace is also knowing it will pass, usually in a blink, for most kids that age. It won’t pass quite as quickly for you.

    Look, we can’t all “like” everyone. That just doesn’t happen in life. But to pass up a little guy because you don’t “like” his mom? That’s a whole ‘nother level of douchebaggery.

    She’s not worth another second of your time. YOU are not toxic. She is.

    • it is a whole ‘nother level of douuchebaggery, isn’t it?? this happened last year as well – same kid, or rather, same mom… and yet i didn’t let that stop me from inviting both her children to my son’s party. meh. it is what it is. we have big plans that weekend now, so come monday when everyone is talking about their weekend, i hope ewan doesn’t notice the place he didn’t get to go

  7. My son turned 7 in April. He got his very first birthday party invitation just a few weeks before his 7th birthday. He had been in school almost 3 years and not one child had ever wanted him to come to their birthday. He never complained. Never even seemed to notice, but I wondered why so often.

    I’m not friends with other parents. I’m heavily involved in the community, but not necessarily where I live. Home is my retreat, and I usually have conflicts on the nights that Parent Council meets. My kid goes to daycare, so I don’t chat with parents at drop off and pick up and I am hopelessly forgetful at scheduling playdates. I have absolutely wondered if it was my fault. I also wondered if it was autism’s fault, because my son is eccentric and being social is hard. But then one kid invited him and we’ve had five more invites since.

    We can drive ourselves crazy as parents worrying about whether our kids are truly accepted by other kids and/or their parents. I’ve been doing that myself lately as my son is experiencing the cooling off of a friendship for the first time (sigh).

    I’m trying to focus on teaching my son (and reminding myself) to treat others with kindness and let them live out their choices without letting it become a personal slight. Easy to say, so very hard to do. (Especially when that one daycare mom stops smiling every time she sees me and refuses to acknowledge me if I say hello. What IS her problem!? She doesn’t even know me.)

    • I loved reading this comment, Karen – thank you for sharing 🙂 – yes, things are easier said than done, but we work at it. Lucky for me, my kid seems pretty happy and distracted with everyone else and his extracurriculars that he hasn’t seemed to notice yet.

  8. Nathan Burgess Nathan Burgess

    Fortunately (or perhaps not) this is in no way your issue. Unless you’re destructively toxic (arriving smashed, with a needle hanging out of your arm and BPA-laden bottle for the kids there’s not a parent on the planet that would intentionally exclude one of their kids’ best friends from their own birthday party.

    I like to give people the benefit of the doubt – 10 years ago I would ask if it’s possible the invite was lost in the mail? Perhaps the kids ‘talked’ about it and your lil one thought he wouldn’t be able to attend (because, you know, kids are so good at calendars), etc.

    But I assume all of those options have been eliminated.

    Even if this troll of a person chose to not invite your offspring because of you that just further demonstrates their bad judgment. That they couldn’t structure the activities to keep parents occupied and non-bothersome, or even speak with your “other half” asking that he bring the tot since some personalities may rub the wrong way they don’t deserve your attention or angst.

    And, of course, when it’s time for your own party – be sure to invite her. Let her explain to her own child that she’s so petty she won’t allow him to attend his friend’s party.

    That you’re even this concerned about it leaves no doubt who has the more selfless parent and that’ll pay dividends for many years to come as the kids learn empathy, sincerity and the golden rule.

    • LOL Nathan, that first paragraph had me in stitches – not just a horrible mom with a booze and drug addiction, but giving the kids BPA-laden bottles so that they can be just as sick. Bwahaha

      It’s hard to think that I’m not liked even though I really didn’t do anything apart from be myself. And maybe that’s the bottom line. This person doesn’t like who I am for no other reason… and now my kid suffers.

      I can be pleasant and smile and leave the conversation and other pleasantries to the people who want to hear them. I don’t need to be everyone’s friend. My child, however, does. He’s young and truly wants to be friends with everyone. He doesn’t seem to notice when the friendship isn’t reciprocated, he moves on to the next person.

      The other day he ran down the street just to say ‘hi’ to a little girl who lives 5 houses down. Then he ran back to me. I said, “that was nice of you.”

      To which he replied, “It don’t matter if she says hi back, right?” – that’s his way of shrugging his shoulders. “It don’t matter”

      Sure, it broke my heart, but my kid bounced back as usual.

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